At healthpro we firmly believe that the development and maintenance of flexibility through regular stretching is an integral component of any exercise regime. Not only assistive to sporting performance, flexibility has important implications for injury prevention, postural alignment, and post-exercise recovery, and its application can offer an enormous feeling of relaxation and wellbeing.

Flexibility, defined as the range of motion around a joint, is adversely affected by a number of factors throughout the lifespan. As an individual increases in age, the inherent elasticity of muscles and tendons naturally declines, and engagement in all manner of work activities from the very labour intensive, to the very sedentary, causes additional shortening and contraction of these tissues. Furthermore, the practice of regular exercise can, paradoxically, reduce flexibility, particularly so in modes of exercise involving repetitive motion such as running or cycling. It is therefore essential to engage in regular and applied stretching as a means of off-setting both age- and activity-related reductions in flexibility. We recommend incorporating stretching into the daily routine – dedicating 10 - 15 minutes each day to stretching is entirely feasible for most people, and is sufficient to achieve substantial improvements in flexibility. Time should also be allocated to stretching post-exercise as increased muscle temperature during this period facilitates highly beneficial deep stretching.

As a general rule, repeat stretches within a sequence 3 – 4 times, gradually extending the time (work from 20 – 40 seconds as a guide) and extent of the applied stretch on each successive repeat. Give particular attention to areas of the body which may be less flexible than others. Aim to relax into, as opposed to rebel against the applied stretch (deep inhalations through the nose, followed by long exhalations through the mouth may help to facilitate this) and always enter and exit a stretch in a slow and controlled fashion.